Buffalo Hearts

Buffalo HeartsforSylvia

If I have to shoot the buffalo–

tear off its skin

share its heart–

Could I do it?

I picture my arm

raising up

to shoot an arrow.

Where does it go–

a target fastened to hay.

Can I let my arrow fly

like a bird

bringing a victim down,

pluck feathers

and roast it

over a fire.

Hunger does strange things

to people.

Putting

the worm on the hook

I knick my finger

many times.

Fish gasp to breath

jerking

as you remove the hook.

My grandparents

had a chicken farm

and had known hunger.

I don’t remember it all.

But, my grandmother

plucked chickens

and even their feet

went in her soup.

I remember her

gnawing on them.

She was a wonderful woman

and even when wealthy

wore unglamorous soft cotton dresses

with small flowers–

dresses that buttoned

down the front

and wore an apron over them.

Down the street

at the corner

was the fish market

fish laid out in irridesence.–

the whole blocked smelled

of them.

I loved  eating fish

but ate meat more.

The butcher shop

was a few doors down

between the fish store

and my grandparents shop

for butter and eggs.

My grandmother

put the meat through a grinder

and the squiggles came out.

The cows in the next door

farm that I used to go over to

during the summer

and what was coming out

and being patted and shaped

into meatloaf

in our home in the city

had no connection

in my mind.

The chickens were Kosher.

You wanted Kosher chickens.

I never knew what Kosher meant.

In Russia,  for generations,

people drank and

raised their glasses

to the war dead.

One did not quibble

over killing chickens

or slaughtering cows.

You were happy to eat.

Do people do that here–

raise a glass to those

who died in 9/11.

I wonder if they did that

after the civil war

or the riots during the 60’s.

I wonder about the children

watching death on T.V,

playing war games.–

Engaged

with all their senses,

the enemy is smitten.

What a rush.

and they don’t know

the words

Kosher or not Kosher,

so the kid gets shot

in the school hallway.

In the distance

birds are screeching.

in the forest,

a deer falls uneaten

and the buffalo heart

is not passed around.

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